Binga residents have appealed to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) to intervene in the water and electricity challenges they have been experiencing for years.
Residents say they have been reeling under impacts of erratic power and water supply for years which they blamed on poor support infrastructure.
Residents told CITE that they had resorted to fetching water from the crocodile infested Zambezi River thereby risking their lives.
There is rampant open defecation as a result of lack of water for flushing.
“People are now risking their lives on a daily basis by resorting to fetching water in the dangerous Zambezi River known for its crocodiles. The situation is being made worse by the shortage of electricity which is needed to pump water from Zambezi River. This problem has been known for many years by authorities but nothing has been done. We are calling on the government to assist us in finding a permanent solution,” said one resident, Mike Mwinde.
Some residents have resorted to hiring vehicles to transport water in buckets and containers over a distance of 8km for USD10 per trip.
“People are travelling more than 8km to and fro the Zambezi River to fetch some water on their heads and only those with cars are able to fetch large quantities of water due to carrying capacity. Life has been made tough for those without cars as they pay more than US10.00 to hire cars in order to access the precious liquid,” lamented Lydia Munsaka of Govera compound.
Binga Residents Association chairperson, Samson Sibanda, said the residents were facing double troubles as they were facing erratic supply of electricity which meant no water.
“We are in a dire situation here in Binga as the electricity issue is also affecting water supply. We sometimes go for up to three weeks without water especially when there’s no power. These related problems have been going on for a while now and residents have had to go through tough times especially when it comes to access to water,” said Sibanda.
He said many power failures were experienced during the rainy season or when it got windy with residents blaming old, rotten wooden poles for triggering blackouts.
“The problem is that the poles are old and rotten and any slight wind results in power loss. Some poles also end up falling and it takes longer for the problem to be attended to. At the moment we have been having only two hours of electricity per day and after that it’s a blackout. When this happens the pumping of water is adversely affected.”
Sibanda said what compounded the water problem was the lack of backup facilities at the ZINWA pump station. He called on the water authority to come up with back up mechanisms such as solar or diesel generators.
He added that they were in the process of engaging both authorities at high levels since local interactions had failed to yield results.
Binga District Hospital was also not spared from the water shortage with the maternity ward and mothers’ waiting shelter hardest hit.
A nurse at the hospital said that the situation at the maternity ward was pathetic arguing that patients were at risk of contracting waterborne diseases.
“The situation is dire and as water plays an important role in everyday life. We have flush toilets which need running water for hygiene purposes while following delivery, mothers need water for washing. The situation is the same for those at the waiting shelters who require water and these expecting mothers cannot travel long distances to fetch water due to their conditions,” said one concerned nurse who requested anonymity.
Meanwhile, Binga Business Community chairperson, Pilate Dube said some businesses were forced to close down due to lack of water while constant power outages had resulted in perishables such as dairy products and meat going bad.
Efforts to get a comment from either ZINWA or ZETDC were fruitless.